Boys Prep Hockey – Founders League Preview: Avon, Salisbury Will Be Challenged By Kent, Westminster

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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The Founders/Housatonic Leagues boast two of the three defending New England champions in Salisbury (Elite 8) and Kent (Large School). There is one new head coach in the league, with Mike Doyle taking over at Hotchkiss.


Coach: John Gardner

Beginning his amazing 47th year behind the bench for the Winged Beavers, coach Gardner heads into the season looking to create a team culture of support and hard work. Avon reached the Elite Semifinals last year.

Up front, senior captain Nick Capasso and senior Joe Connor (Northeastern commit) will headline a solid offense that will also feature the likes of senior Charlie Gollob, senior Alex Pelletier, juniors Charles Blanchard and Joe Odyniec, and sophomore Won-Jun Yun. Two newcomers from the Mass HS ranks ready to show what they can do are junior Ryan Flaherty (Holy Cross commit) and sophomore Mike Munroe.

A solid defense will feature senior captain Jordin Palmer (18 pts), junior Hudson Miller (Yale commit), senior Jack Kennedy, junior Magnus Turcotte and senior Rufus Gray. Three blue line newcomers to the program are juniors Drew Pitts (Minneapolis) and Blake Jones (Winnipeg) and freshman John Donahue (Hamden, CT).

Senior Will Prince is a returning varsity goaltender. New senior Stephen Peck, from the North Jersey Avalanche program, will be a welcome addition.

CHOATE (4-17-3)

Coach: Jesse Minneman

If the Wild Boars are to improve on last year’s performance, success will hinge on the play of a young blue line. Minneman feels his club has added production up front, and are strong in the cage.

Senior Jake Kavanagh is back at forward after leading Choate with 11 goals last winter. Seniors Evan Partridge and Ethan Hodgson, and juniors Owney Tunney and Ben Darche are ready to increase their roles this year. Some new guys to keep an eye on in the offensive end of the ice are senior Ben Polomsky (Windy City Storm) and juniors Jacob Gelman (Florida Alliance) and Will Underwood (NJ Devils).

On the blue line, it will be seniors Jack Badeer and Thomas Plamondon, and sophomore Will Henderson providing leadership. New sophomore Rowan Aggarwal (Cape Cod Whalers) looks to step in.

In goal, senior returner Primo Baldassare saw the majority of time in the Choate goal last season.

DEERFIELD (8-16-0)

Coach: Tim McVaugh

The Big Green were on the younger side last season, so, with a big chunk of the roster back with more experience, this team could be on the upswing.

At forward, senior Owen Clifford is coming off a 14-point campaign, and is joined by juniors Tom Molson and Cam Herr. Bolstering the attack will be new senior Nate Heithoff (Blake School), committed to Williams, along with junior Jakub Kohn (Jr. Ducks U16) and sophomore Justin Tavares (Vaughan Kings U16).

Junior Ben Cook and sophomore Ryan Diffley should play big minutes on the Deerfield blue line. New sophomore Zachary Chehade (Eaglebrook) is ready to make a splash.

With workhorse Jake Fillion having graduated, senior Michael Corrado (Williams commit) and junior John Tolve will battle for time between the pipes.

HOTCHKISS (4-16-0)

Coach: Mike Doyle

After coaching at Brewster Academy the past few seasons, Doyle takes over behind the bench for the Bearcats. A dedicated group of upperclassmen will be relied on to set the culture. “We have a bigger team so using our size and and strength to limit the other team’s time and space will be important. Playing sound team defense will be critical in a league where every team is competitive and games are often won and lost on one play,” he said.

Leading the Hotchkiss offensive attack are returning seniors Shayne Bjorn and Zach Bye, and junior Brennan Cail. Junior Jake Owens (Chittenago, NY) is a newcomer to watch in the forward group.

Senior Michael Gallary and junior James Mackey are two key returners on the Hotchkiss blue line.

In goal, senior returner Grant Kloeber is back, while new sophomore Connor Towle will press for time.

KENT (20-8-0)

Coach: Dale Reinhardt

The defending New England Large School champions graduated their top six scorers so there will be some question marks up front. However, the Lions return two solid netminders and have what coach Reinhardt calls “the best defensive corps I have had in my 10 years.” So, if they can produce offensively, the Lions will be one tough out.

At forward, junior Gio DiGiulian did put up 14 points last season, and junior Patrick Walsh had 11. Both will be keys this winter. Newcomers ready to step in and contribute are juniors Owen Maher (Rochester Coalition), Jack Roberts (St. Paul’s transfer), Michael Fiedorczuk (Culver Academy) and Peter Skoglund (Team Illinois), and sophomore Stefano Pietrantonio (Lac St. Louis AAA).

In junior Alex Bales, a Providence commit, Kent will boast one of the top blue-liners in prep school hockey. The talented group also featues juniors Teddy Mallgrave, Braden Pohlman and Denver Damphousse, and sophomore Jacob Ingstrup.

Kent’s goalie tandem will include senior Harrison Fogel and junior Aidan Hopewell, both of whom saw good action last winter.


Coach: J.R. Zavisza

The Pelicans earned a berth in the Large School Tournament last year, and took eventual champion Kent to OT in the quarterfinal round. A strong senior class will be vital to team success this winter for a club that should feature team speed and a balanced attack.

Ben Carfora
Loomis Chaffee

An offensive catalyst for coach Zavisza will be senior returner Will Reardon (Holy Cross commit), coming off a 20-point campaign. Senior Makai Tarjamo will another player to watch. Other key returners include seniors Aidan Healy and Elijah Hull, and junior Ben Carfora. New junior Ryan Staples will plug right in; he recently committed to Yale.

Junior Drew Anastasio is a solid two-way rearguard and will be key on the Loomis blue line along with returning senior Jacob Hookman-Vassa.

Senior Andrew Heinze, who saw the bulk of time in the Pelicans cage last year, is back for a big campaign.

SALISBURY (23-5-0)

Coach: Andrew Will

A slower-than-usual start to the season didn’t deter the Crimson Knights from their final destination, an Elite 8 New England title. Salisbury won 18 of its final 19 games to secure the title. The team lost 16 players from that title club, but coach Will anticipates having good depth in the forward ranks, and is excited about the team’s leadership corps.

Returning up front ready to chip in are seniors Trey Deere (Syracuse lacrosse commit), Michael Strapp, Rapolas Marcinkevicius and Hayden Hanes, and juniors Ty Creech and Seamus Latta. The Knights also seem to reload with top talent and this year is no exception, as expect senior Garrett Krieger (Skaneateles, NY), juniors Jared Rothman (Chappaqua, NY), Nicholas Petrut (Kingston, ONT), Duke Gentzler (Redondo Beach, CA), and Jesse Allecia (New York) and sophomore Liam Kilfoil (Quispamsis, NB) to impress.

Defense will be strong. Returning senior Alex Zakrzewski is a Brown commit. Also back are seniors Sam Hall, Henry Metz and Justin DeLucia (Conn. College lacross commit). New faces include Cornell commit Hudson Gorski (junior), Holy Cross commit Quinn McCall (senior) and sophomore Finn Boyd.

The goalie room was wiped out by graduation, so the chores will fall on newcomers Matt Alberti (senior) and Cooper Flemming (junior).

TAFT (7-13-2)

Coach: Ryan Shannon

New additions at each position will help support the Rhinos’ dynamic upper classes, giving the team a lot of balance as it heads into the new season.

A trio of seniors – J.J. Lemieux, Jackson Holl and Zave Greene – and junior Archer Brown all were amongst the team’s top scorers last winter. Junior Derek Tremblay (Boischatel, QUE), and sophomores Preston Hidy (Darien, CT) and Joey Crescimanni (Webster, NY) are newcomers to watch up front.

Four blueliners return ready for increased roles on the blue line in senior Nick Lancaster, and juniors Alex Kenerson, Shane Mettler and Gerrit Lansing.

In goal, look for junior Rudy Guimond, a recent commit to Yale, take over the top spot in Taft’s goalie rotation. Senior Isaiah Marquez-Greene is back as well.


Coach: Robert Ferraris

With a good group back, The Pride are optimistic about the upcoming campaign.

A deep forward group is led by senior Jackson Graber (33 pts). Also in the leadership group are seniors Tyler Fogu, Lucas Buchanan, Tobias Iantorno and Cristobal Tola, and juniors Hunter Dickey and Max Lieman.

On the blue line, coach Ferraris will rely on a quintet of senior veterans in Nikita Bykov, Raphael Denis, Ryan Drust, Ethan Flintoff and Owen Robitaille.

In the nets, junior Ethan Fehrenbaker and sophomore Gavin Geraghy both saw time last winter for coach Ferraris.


Coach: Tim Joncas

A Small School playoff club a year ago, the Martlets should be an intriguing bunch this winter. “While we have many new faces we will have a core group that will bring the new players along. Team strengths will be our leadership, and our commitment to doing what we can do each day to support each others growth,” said coach Joncas.

Aksel Sather Westminster

Despite graduating its top three scorers, Westminster returns a solid core up front in seniors Wade Volo (15 pts) and Rowan Masse (14 pts), and juniors Ryan Shaw (18 pts), Brian Judge and Michael Blanco. Amongst the newcomers ready to show what they can do are post-grad Aksel Sather (Fairfield Prep), junior Nick Tsatas (Lower Canada College) and sophomores Derek Rhodes (Pope Francis), Quinn Pine (Bishop Stang) and Blake Burke (Mid Fairfield).

Quinn Pine Westminster

Junior Matt Hanscom (RPI commit) and senior Tino DeFazio will be cornerstone blueliners for the Martlets. The squad welcomes juniors Eric Elbery (Pelham NY HS) and Patrick Dotson (Jr. Rangers), and sophomore JJ Hurley (Northwest Catholic) to the defensive unit.

Junior Matteo DeLuca is primed for more minutes between the pipes.

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